A MAN has received a three-year sentence at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin for the possession of a car bomb that was left outside Crossmaglen Police Station over two years ago.
Paul Maguire, with a last address at Drumleek South, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, had pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of an improvised explosive device with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the State or elsewhere at Culloville, Co Armagh, Northern Ireland, on April 3rd, 2010.
The court heard that the device was loaded in to a stolen Peugeot 406 car and left outside the Crossmaglen PSNI station where it failed to detonate.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler today said the court would sentence father-of-one Maguire to nine years with six years suspended, having regard to evidence that the defendant was a “vulnerable and biddable” character.
The 27-year-old is currently serving an 18-month sentence imposed by the non-jury court in March, after he pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a sawn-off, 12-gauge side-by-side shotgun and two 12-gauge Eley shotgun cartridges at Ecco Road, Dundalk, Co Louth on August 8, 2010.
Maguire was one of five men arrested after gardai stopped two cars - a black BMW car and a beige Ford Galaxy MPV-which had been travelling in convoy and drove up and down past a Maxol garage on the Castletown Road near Dundalk, Co Louth, on the morning of August 8.
Detective Inspector William Hanrahan told counsel for the State Garnet Orange SC that a red Peugeot 406 car with a Republic of Ireland registration was abandoned at the entrance gates of Crossmaglen Police Station on April 3, 2010.
He said that the PSNI’s Explosive Ordnance Unit inspected the vehicle using a remote controlled “wheelbarrow” robot and found two gas cylinders, a length of wiring and a car battery.
Det Insp Hanrahan agreed that the device was made safe following a controlled explosion and explosives expert Alan Ness gave evidence that, had the device functioned as intended, it was capable, at the upper end, of causing death or serious injury to anyone within the blast radius.
He agreed with Mr Orange that the device did not explode owing to a defect in the timing unit and an error in the mix of paraffin and diesel fuel contained in the cylinders.
Det Insp Hanrahan told the court that Maguire was present at a yard in Culloville where the Peugeot 406 was loaded with the bomb and that his role was to fuel a Range Rover jeep – which was to be used as a getaway car – and to telephone the Samaritans with a bomb warning.
Maguire, he said, did not actually go to the police station.
Counsel for Maguire, Patrick Gageby SC, told the non-jury court that a psychiatric report indicated his client was not “ranked in the highest echelons of scholarship”, adding that Maguire was a young man who had made “two very large mistakes in life”.
Taking to the stand, Maguire said he was sorry for what he had done, apologised to the court and said he would not be involved “in any similar organisation” again.
Mr Justice Butler said that Maguire had pleaded guilty to a very serious offence but that there was a lot to be said in his favour.
He said the court had taken all matters in to consideration and noted the case could have been prosecuted at an earlier date, which led the court to impose a lower sentence to date from today rather than a backdated tariff.
Mr Justice Butler, sitting with Judge Margaret Heneghan and Judge William Hamill, said the court would suspend six years of a nine-year sentence to commence from today.